Here’s a name you should keep an eye on in 2017: Sharlene Taule. The Dominican singer and actress has been quietly building a name for herself in the U.S. with her music and has now set her sights on bigger things. After a string of well received singles, a prime featured role in Luny Tunes’ “La Fila” alongside Maluma and Don Omar, and a self-titled first album, Sharlene is gearing up for what might be the biggest break of her career yet: a role in Fox’s sudsy musical drama Star.
The Lee Daniels-created show follows a girl group in Atlanta trying to make it in the music industry. They’re helped by Jahil, a talent agent played by Benjamin Bratt, whose dark past and drug addiction make him all the more eager to do anything he can to help these young girls succeed. When Remezcla talked to Bratt about his role, he was quick to praise the way Daniels was using Star to reflect the world we live in and, in particular, to “the intersectionality that he draws between black and Latino culture.” He urged us to look out for a character introduced in the third episode, Eva. [Spoiler Alert] We meet the young woman (played by Sharlene) when, in attempt to get some quick money he needs to secure time in a recording studio, Bratt’s character finds himself embroiled in a human trafficking ring. She doesn’t say a word in that first encounter, but by the time she shows up at his place later in the episode, it’s clear we’re bound to get to know her better as the series goes along.
“This is a character that, in each episode, is like peeling an onion. It just goes ring by ring. There’s always something to discover about her.”
Working with Bratt, as Sharlene told Remezcla, has been a dream. “We connect really well. Getting to work with him is amazing not only because I’m sharing my scenes with this amazing actor, but this amazing human being who’s so open and helpful. We have great chemistry and we support each other very much. I think there is a dynamic to this Jahil/Eva relationship that people are going to be drawn to, I think. Well, I hope!” While I try to prod her for more details on their dynamic and what she can tell me about this intriguing and mysterious character, the Dominican actress was quick to point out that, actually, “mystery is a key word in describing Eva. I mean this is a character that, in each episode, is like peeling an onion. It just goes ring by ring. There’s always something to discover about her.” She admitted that she couldn’t spill too much about what’s in store for the young woman but assured us that there are surprises in store the more we get to know her. “That’s why it’s been so much to play her,” she added. “I’ve had to use as many tools as I’ve got as a human being and as an actress to give it all to this character because she has that many faces.”
In fact, despite having had ample acting experience both in the D.R. and in Miami where she was part of the cast of Nickelodeon’s Grachi, she confessed to have been terrified of reading for the part. Much of it had to do with the caliber of the project but also of the ambitiousness of the character’s arc. “I knew it was going to be a challenge but I decided to go for it. I auditioned, gave it my best and I guess it paid off!”
“I had massive support from people I admire in the music industry such as Mozart La Para, Mafio, Nacho”
Then again Sharlene’s own story feels ready-made for the type of star-in-the-makings storylines that are at the center of Star. As she put it her recent successes are proof of how hard work really does pay off. But perhaps more importantly, of the importance of being patient. “Of learning that when so many doors close yeah, some others will open which are the right ones,” a lesson she learned, like many others before her, during her time in L.A. where she’d moved after knowing that’s where she had to be to do the things that she wanted to accomplish. Namely, an album.
After racking up No. 1s on Billboard’s Tropical Airplay chart with “Mal de Amor,” “Aqui Nadie Toca” and “Toy Enamorao,” she set her sights on producing her first album. And for all the work she personally put into Sharlene, which mixes merengue and reggaetón with an electronic and urban sound, she knows she couldn’t have done it with those around her. “I had massive support from people I admire in the music industry such as Mozart La Para, Mafio, Nacho. Oh, I’m gonna forget a bunch of others, and then they’re gonna get mad! But really, so many people.” And she’s already excited about what 2017 will bring, including a new collaboration with Don Omar, and Star, of course.
As for whether we’ll get to see Eva sing and dance on the show, Sharlene was as graciously evasive as one could be, giggling her way through, hoping perhaps I wouldn’t demand a specific answer. We settled on that tried-and-true television expression: you’ll have to tune in to find out!
Star airs Wednesdays on Fox at 9 p.m.